They were the only link many of us in small towns and on farms had with the outside gardening world. We were excited when they arrived in the January mailbox. They made midwinter seem not so bad and spring not so far away. Seed catalogs still have the same effect. We think about how fun it will be to grow the new and improved vegetables. The colorful pictures of flowers give us hope that our flowerbeds will look as nice. We circle the varieties that catch our eye and add them to our wish list.
Q: I picked an African violet leaf and put it in water to start a new plant. It's been in water for three weeks and still no roots. Should I start with another leaf? — Ray Brown, Enderlin, N.D.
How could Bambi and Thumper do this? Masquerading behind Disney cuteness are two ruthless plant-devouring, bark-chewing, fruit tree-munching menaces. Maybe it's age, but I've lost my affinity for cute critters. I'm a soon-to-be crotchety 60-year-old, who'll probably be yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off my lawn. I'm teasing about the kids, but not the rabbits and deer that can cause great damage during winter. Because perennials, trees and shrubs are dormant, we can be lulled into believing all is quiet on the snow-covered front.
Q: I'm replacing many of the light bulbs in our home with the newer, energy-efficient LED bulbs that appear to be replacing old, ordinary bulbs and fluorescent lights. Can LED bulbs be used to start seedlings indoors and to grow plants? — Dan Frankheiser, Alexandria, Minn. A: Shopping for light bulbs used to be so easy. Browsing the light bulb shelves now is a major task. Like you, we're also switching to LED bulbs, because for example a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb uses only about 6 watts, which greatly reduces the electric bill.
Q: For the past two or three summers, I've noticed the leaves of maple trees around Fargo are a pale yellow color rather than deep green. Similarly, my 20-year-old autumn blaze maple also has pale yellow leaves in the spring and summer. There is little or no color change in the fall. We long for the fall days when we have bright red leaves. We've tried root treatments, which are only partially successful. Do you have any other suggestions to keep our tree alive? — Todd Dudgeon, Fargo.
What's a gardener to do? Most of us fill our available yard space with our favorite flower and vegetable varieties that have bloomed beautifully and yielded well in the past. But seed catalogs and garden centers are filled with new varieties each year. Should we throw caution to the wind and try new varieties or stick with the old favorites? What if new varieties are duds? Will the season be wasted on ugly flowers and non-productive vegetables?
I'm a sucker for an intriguing headline about gardening. As each year begins, magazine and online stories entice us to read about the latest rage in gardening. I usually buy the magazine or click on the story. Maybe the weed-free yard has been invented, and I don't want to miss out. Each year the national Garden Media Group predicts trends that will impact our yards and gardens. I've summarized what they feel will be hot topics using their terminology. I've added a few thoughts afterwards. Peak season
Q: Rabbits are chewing the bark from around my apple tree. I just put chicken wire around it to stop additional damage. Is there anything else I should do, and will the tree recover? — Dave Salinger, Bismarck, ND. A: Whether the apple tree will be permanently damaged depends on how deeply the rabbit chewed and how far around the trunk the damage occurred. Other than protecting the trunk from further damage, there isn't much that can be done, except wait and see what happens in spring.
FARGO — If someone did something nice for all of us 500 years ago, is it too late to say thanks? Or 198 years ago? People who enjoyed plants and nature centuries ago gave us the Christmas decorations we enjoy today. Let's give them a round of applause for cultivating nature into lasting symbols of the holidays. Christmas wouldn't be the same without evergreen trees, wreaths and poinsettias. Maybe it was a group of gardeners who decided these would be fitting holiday decorations. Christmas trees
If someone did something nice for all of us 500 years ago, is it too late to say thanks? Or 198 years ago? People who enjoyed plants and nature centuries ago gave us the Christmas decorations we enjoy today. Let's give them a round of applause for cultivating nature into lasting symbols of the holidays. Christmas wouldn't be the same without evergreen trees, wreaths and poinsettias. Maybe it was a group of gardeners who decided these would be fitting holiday decorations. Christmas trees